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Backlash against Health Minister Yael German for her decision to stop fluoridation
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
22/06/2014
Health experts and mayors of towns in the periphery say decision would lead to dental decay of poor children.
 
Leading public health and dentistry experts, the mayor of Dimona, and the head of the Beduin Hura local council near Beersheba have all hurled unprecedentedly strong criticism at Health Minister Yael German for last year canceling the requirement for municipalities to fluoridate their drinking water.

Ten experts in public health and dentistry signed a letter of protest against German’s decision, which has not yet been implemented. The signatories – which included senior academics, professors of dentistry, and even a former Health Ministry public health official – said that “endless numbers of personal letters have been sent to you by the most senior experts in Israel in pediatrics, dental health, and academia who strongly oppose your decision to cancel the fluoridation requirement.”

However, they noted that they – as well as leading professionals in the Health Ministgry who oppose German’s – had all been “absolutely ignored” by the minister. “They see that you are digging in your heels and sticking to your policy on this issue....

Millions of households will be forced to spend money to repair the damage” caused by this decision, the experts charged.

They stated on Sunday that German, who formerly as mayor of Herzliya canceled fluoridation in her municipality, would be responsible for serious dental decay in the mouths of poor children around the country who do not have the luxury of getting fluoride treatments and regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste that welloff children get. Municipalities and larger local authorities have been required by law to fluoridate tap water for four decades.

The experts said that the minister’s defense of her position in the past was based on “populistic arguments supported by amateur studies and ignored dozens of years of research in Israel and the world absolutely showing that there is no better health, economic, and social substitute for adding fluoride to the tap water in Israel.” They accused German of setting her policy based on a “political and sectorial basis. Your behavior on this matter aroused in us an unusual feeling of discomfort. We learned that your decisions are based on ‘scientific facts’ that are based on negligible studies instead of on comprehensive and high-quality scientific facts.”

The experts wrote that even German does “not disregard the importance of fluoride and states that underprivileged sectors need to get it directly” rather than through the water. But that will require the needy to take children to dentists for prophylactic treatment and force them to give fluoride drops. They demanded that German cancel her decision “immediately and set up a professional committee that is not composed of ‘yes men whose decisions are known in advance,’ but rather of independent experts from all aspects of medicine.”

Copies of the letter were sent to ministry director-general Prof. Arnon Afek and Social Welfare Minister Meir Cohen.

Meanwhile, Dimona Mayor Benny Biton wrote his own letter lashing out against German’s decision and accused her of “ignoring the periphery,” placing a financial burden of dental care on local authorities, and not offering any alternative for not fluoridating the water.

In Hura, the local council head said that German’s decision threatened the dental health of some 100,000 Beduin children.

German’s office did not respond to a request for a reaction from The Jerusalem Post.
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